OGDEN -- Marcie Valdez had her Christmas wishes come true early Thursday: Three big trucks delivered apples, oranges, toilet paper, yams, stuffing, Jell-O and everything else one needs for a holiday feast.
It took all morning to unload and most of the day to sort, but Valdez, director of the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank, which is run by Catholic Community Services, said the massive delivery took a load off her mind.
"Oh, my gosh, it is huge!" she said. "It just kind of takes the worry out of wondering if we'll have enough to fill our holiday baskets."
Thursday's delivery came courtesy of Great Salt Lake Minerals, which raised $26,000 to buy all that stuff, including $12,000 of its own money.
GSL also provided 40 volunteers to swarm the food bank and sort it all out.
There was so much -- an estimated 1,000 boxes of food -- that GSL had to borrow the food bank's truck, because the truck it rented turned out to be too small.
The delivery has become an annual tradition for GSL.
This year's is double what the company has delivered in the past, but Valdez said none of it will be surplus. The vast majority of it will go right back out the door in individual Christmas food boxes next week.
She has 1,800 families signed up to receive Christmas food boxes this year. GSL's donation, by no coincidence at all, includes 1,800 packages of all those things listed and more.
Sherry Tolman, spokeswoman for GSL who handled most of the shopping, said the company likes to help the food bank every year because it fits in with GSL's business.
The company runs massive evaporation ponds at Great Salt Lake, producing potassium sulfate, or potash, from the lake's water. Potash is used as fertilizer.
"We support farmers that feed America, so we want to support the local food bank," Tolman said.
The company normally provides $12,000 for its donation, but this year, Valdez has been inundated with demand because of the poor economy and high unemployment rates.
Last year, the food bank provided holiday food baskets for 1,200 families at Christmas, Valdez said.
This year, she was wondering if she'd even be able to handle that many, let alone the 1,800 she was certain she could register.
The food bank already provides food to about 2,000 clients a month. In November, when the bank also provided Thanksgiving baskets, it handed out 160,000 pounds of food in 3,133 food baskets.
In December, she was looking at 3,800 when she combined regular food baskets and Christmas food boxes.
"That's an incredible amount of food that would wipe us out without the support of GSL and so many other groups that do food drives," Valdez said.
Meanwhile, donations have fallen, also because of the economy. Several times this year, Valdez has had to issue public pleas for help because her cupboard was literally bare.
That's not the case at the moment.
"This will be the first time our shelves have been full since January," she said just before GSL's trucks arrived Thursday. "We've been scrambling every day since January to get by."
Tolman said when GSL was told of the shortage, "we approached our top vendors and asked each of them to donate $1,000. Fourteen of them came through," so she had $26,000 to spend.
She said she bought 1,800 each of canned yams, Jell-O, fruit cocktail, margarine, candy canes, rice, macaroni, stuffing, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, soap, diapers and a thousand cans of Ensure.
That last, a high-calorie food beverage, is for senior citizens.
"A couple years ago, Marcie told me that seniors were asking for baby food," because it's soft and many elderly have dental problems, Tolman said.
"So I've always had a special place in my heart for seniors," she said, and make sure to buy Ensure.
GSL also bought shampoo, soap and diapers, because the poor have trouble getting toiletries.
To top it all off, she said, it bought 7,000 pounds of apples and oranges from Carlo's fruit stand in Ogden.
Valdez said this all means she is entering Christmas in pretty good shape.
An initial shortage of turkeys and hams sparked vigorous drives by United Way and others, so she has nearly 2,000 of those.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bishop's storehouse just sent over 13 pallet loads of potatoes.
On top of that, the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's group, is providing 120 coats to local children this weekend.
"We do not get any federal funds," Valdez said as she watched Carlo Sacco, the third generation running his grandfather's produce stand, wrestle stacks of boxed oranges and apples out of his truck.
"Everything thing we do is because of the generosity of someone else."
After she went through the list of items being delivered, Tolman said she had one more thing to give Valdez.
"We had some left over, so we thought you'd like gift cards for your staff," she said, most of whom are volunteers, many of whom need help themselves.
Then she handed Valdez a stack of 16 $25 gift cards.
Valedez said several of her workers were having financial difficulties and would be very grateful.